I have the pleasure (and honour) of being one of the editors of this year’s Tesseracts anthology. Tesseracts Twenty-one has the theme of ‘Optimistic SF’ which I think is just perfect, because can’t we all use a little more optimism in our lives?
In the submission guidelines the theme is described as:
The theme of the anthology is ‘optimism’ – which doesn’t necessarily exclude dark or scary settings – but requires some sort of optimistic twist or element. Whether that takes the form of a solar-punk tale set in a sustainable world with a post-scarcity economy, a POV character existing as an advocate of optimism or something else entirely, the editors want to see it.
“We’re not looking for saccharine sweetness, but rather stories which offer a little brightness and hope in one way or another,” says Rhonda Parrish, co-editor.
“While we’re certainly interested in submissions where a Canadian setting (a specific city, region, or province) plays a role, we’re also open to stories set anywhere in the world, the universe, or the multiverse,” says Greg Bechtel, co-editor.
And submissions are open now, which means Greg and I have had the chance to read a few dozen stories already and I’ve got to say, I’m impressed. I love the different ways people are interpreting the theme of optimism! There hasn’t been a saccharine sweet story in the bunch, which I feel is somewhat of a miracle, truth be told. So even though things are looking really good in the submission pile, it’s sort of a tradition for me to put out a wishlist of sorts when I edit an anthology, so here’s my wishlist for Tesseracts Twenty-one 🙂
When I’m reading submissions the #1 most important thing to me are the characters — they need to be three-dimensional, of course, but beyond that I also need at least one character I can cheer for. They don’t need to be perfect (please God, don’t let them be perfect) but it’s vital that I want them to prevail. Apply this to all the things on my wishlist below, because I do 🙂
- Solarpunk is optimistic and envisions an eco-friendly future “focused on envisioning a positive future beyond scarcity and hierarchy, where humanity is reintegrated with nature and technology is used for human-centric and ecocentric purposes.” (Source: Wikipedia.). I’d love to see solarpunk stories that use interesting characters to explore the kinds of conflicts that would exist in a utopian world through an optimistic lens. That might include conflict types that exist now (interpersonal, criminal, political) as well as ones that might come about because of the new state of things. What kinds of conflicts would those be? I don’t know. Surprise me!* Related: I love the solarpunk aesthetic of Olivia’s art here.
- Stories where different factions learn to work together (or at least co-exist) can be cheesy and overdone or they can be amazing and inspiring. If you have one of the latter, send it! 🙂
- Good humour is difficult to write, but if you can make me laugh when I read your story you are halfway to the longlist already.
- A new twist on a build-your-own-spaceship story? Yes, please!
- I’m always a big fan of a good time travel story, and if that isn’t a sub-genre that is ripe for exploring through an optimistic lens I don’t know what is.
- There are some who believe humans will set foot on Mars within our lifetime. I mean… I’m just saying… (Hint: I’m not just saying)
I could go on. Normally I probably would go on but these vague little hints I’m offering are just meant to help spark something for anyone who wanted to submit but are currently stuck for ideas, they aren’t meant to be prescriptive. And what I’m seeing in the submissions already is creative, thoughtful and insightful so it seems many of you have already got strong, interesting ideas for optimistic SF. I don’t want to muddy those waters.
Submissions will remain open until the end of April. I hope to see your name in the submissions pile and discover what your interpretation of ‘Optimistic SF’ is!
*Plagiarized from the MSWL I posted a couple months ago